Texas is poised to expand the size of its highly restrictive medical marijuana program, from just three dispensaries to a still-undetermined number, but the state is retaining its ban on full-fledged cannabis.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced in a press release on Monday that it is now accepting applications for more dispensaries, and the application window will remain open until April 28. More information on the selection process will be made available “at a later date,” the agency said.
“The department will issue only the number of licenses necessary to ensure reasonable statewide access to, and the availability of, low-THC cannabis for patients registered in the compassionate-use registry,” the agency said in its release.
According to The Dallas Morning News, DPS regulatory services division chief Wayne Mueller said last month that a decision on license recipients will most likely be made by June or July this year.
The three currently operating dispensaries are all in central Texas, with two in Austin and a third in Schulenberg.
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Under Texas law, only cannabis products with 0.5% THC by weight are legal, and there are just eight qualifying medical conditions that make patients eligible for MMJ in Texas.
As a result, there are only about 8,000 “active” medical cannabis patients in the state, which has some industry insiders in Texas worried that the customer base is still too low to support additional dispensaries, The Dallas Morning News reported.
“We think it’s closer to 100,000 total patients before we need to initiate another process for bringing on new licenses,” said Nico Richardson, acting CEO of Compassionate Cultivation in Texas.
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There is a new push in the Texas Legislature to legalize full-potency medical marijuana, by Democratic state Sen. Jose Menendez of San Antonio, but it’s unclear what political chances the bill has.